E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Discussion of useful training and pet care tools.

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Jo_Smith
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E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Jo_Smith » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:49 am

Hi, I've been working with my dog trying to improve his recall for the past 12 months. I've always used positive training methods which have been successful so far & he's a great dog. My problem is that he chases everything, no amount of recall training has made one bit of difference - believe me I have tried. I have practised every day, used training treats, toys, long lines, etc with no improvement.

I live in an area with lots of animals - wild & livestock so have now come to a cross roads. Is he to remain on his leash forever or do I try something different, something I would never have considered previously, an e collar?

Please don't tell me to speak to a behaviourist, we've seen several & none of the recommndations work when my dog is faced with a fleeing animal. I hate the thought of him constantly being leashed as he loves running around so you can understand my dilemma. My friend has recently seen a trainer who used one on her dog & it has been an amazing success, he is now reliably recalled from animals & is still the friendly dog he was before so it hasn't 'scarred him for life'

What would you do? Am I right to consider an e collar? Does the end justify the means?

ladybug1802
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:38 pm

Work of the devil - most definitely.

Before I say anymore, I want to ask - have you tried one of these on yourself? I have. Up to about level 2 it is like a very strong 'tingle'....but on the levels above that it hurts - a LOT. No way would I inflict that on my dog. I saw one of Victoria's programmes where a 'trainer'had advised a lady to use one of these on her puppy...for no other reason that to 'train' it! The result? A VERY scared dog, with incredible fear issues of other dogs, and who had a bald area on her neck where the collar had burnt the fur away.

But aside from that, yes it may well stop your dog mid way through chasing a sheep, for example, but this is not traning the dog to not chase these animals, it is giving it a full on electric shock which scares it enough and is painful enough to stop it in its tracks. These collars can cause SO many other issues. Imagine, for example, you 'zapped' the poor dog at a time when it was passing or looking at another human....it coudl well end up associating the pain with seeing a person, and make it fearful of strangers/other people. It coud make the dog wary and fearful of you, as it may well see the fact that YOU cause the zap.

And apart from any of that - would you REALLY want to electrocute your dog just to save putting it on lead when there are sheep and livestock around? Why not, instead, start working the dog around these creatures, on lead, to start desensitizing the dog to them? I live in a rural area and always walk through fields and woodlands where there are sometimes sheep and cows in the fields.....if they are a far enough distance away Dylan pays no attention now. If they are closer Iput him on lead, but now he doesnt bat an eyelid....he used to lunge and try to chase them altho he was always on lead round them. But he has got used to them now. I still dont risk it, I just put him on lead when we go through areas where they are, then take him off lead after.

E-collars are something this forum does not advocate - in fact you will likely find some very strong opinions on them and we all dislike them! Please dont use one of these - they shouldnt be allowed, they really shouldnt. Imagine if people started electric shocking their kids to get them to conform....there would be uproar! But yet it is allowed with dogs....its awful.

My dog has pretty good recall until he sees a squirrel or something in the woods, then I dont bother calling him as he wont come bacj....I stand there and wait and he returns in a few minutes. He never catches anything though, and is never gone for long. But if you live in a rural area, and are not in a field with livestock, why not let him be a dog?

Jo_Smith
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Jo_Smith » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:28 pm

I have tried one, my friends one. I actually put it around my neck so could test it & you are correct, the lower settings were a tingle gradually getting stronger until I found it very uncomfortable, I wouldn't say painful. I have no intention of hurting my dog, I love him to bits & this is why I am so concerned with his poor recall.

He is always leashed around livestock, I am not wanting to walk around livestock with him off lead - that would be foolish & irresponsible of me. My concern is if he were to take off & chase whatever took his fancy then he could cross several fields then find himself amongst livestock - what then? He could either be shot by the farmer or injured by the livestock. If he was in a hyped up state from aleady chasing then I fear the sight of livestock would further excite him.

Or what if he chased the animal to a nearby road - despite living in the countryside there are still roads around? Do you really feel it is a sensible option to leave him until he decides to come back? I do let him be a dog, we have many a long walk where he sniffs, runs around, rolls in whatever takes his fancy, meets up with his doggies friends but I feel that I need to control him a bit more as his life could be at stake if I do not.

ladybug1802
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:48 pm

I never said let your dog run off and leave him till he comes back - I simply said that is what MY dog does. But my dog doesnt go far, and is only ever gone into the woods a few minutes....and I am only so relaxed about it because, after it happening several times and me panicking, after nearly 2 years I now know him and what he does. So if I dont want him to run off, or am near a road, or somewhere I or he dont know well, I keep him on his long line or lead...always. I would always rather keep him on a long line and just let him off on occasions than use an e-collar.

Like you I have worked a lot on Dylan's recall, but if he sees a small furry animal he chases after it, or if he gets a good scent......but I would never use a shock collar to get him back....as I said I would rather keep him on his long line.

Jo_Smith
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Jo_Smith » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:56 pm

Please don't misunderstand, I wasn't being sarcastic - sorry, have not really used forums too much before.

I am curious though to as to why keeping a dog on a long line is preferable to using an e collar? My dog has run off before, not minutes but hours. Hours of worry on my part & probably fear on his upon finding himself miles from home.

I do not think a life spent ona lead is fair on a dog who, as you say, wants to be a dog -this I agree with. Limiting his time spent sniffing & exploring is not something I wish to do. I want the best for hoim & I am running out of idea of how to stop him mid chase & am desperate.

I thank you for your repies though, there has been quite a few views but you have been the ony one to comment so far

Sarah83
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Sarah83 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:58 pm

I've spoken to several ecollar trainers about my own livestock chasing, small animal killing dog. The ones I'd trust told me there is about a 20% chance of it working to solve the issue. Now, most ecollar trainers and supporters will tell you it WILL work and it will work almost instantly but there is NO guarnatee with any training and the more your dog has practiced the behaviour the less chance of an ecollar working apparently. As I say, most won't tell you that though.

I don't let Rupert off leash unless we're in a secure area so that if he does take off after a rabbit or whatever it doesn't really matter because he can't go far. Anywhere else he's on a long line and harness so that he can have some freedom but not endanger himself or other animals. It's not ideal but I was never comfortable with shocking him anyway and finding out it wasn't that likely to work just sealed the deal really.

ladybug1802
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by ladybug1802 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:06 pm

I know - its hard on forums sometimes to come across the correct way! I read my post again and it sounds a bit blunt - oops!

I am surprised more people havent commented, but I am sure they will - I think it may be because a lot of people on here do feel sttrongly about these kind of aversive methods....I am sure people will comment very soon though.

Apart from the pain these collars cause (which is the reason they stop the dog in its tracks obvioiusly) is they can so easily cause other issues, as I touched on initially. They can easily cause other fear issues as well. It wont train the dog to listen to you and NOT run after livestock etc, it will just cause it pain, but the majority of the time it will not know WHY it has just felt that pain......and that is open to a lot of other issues arising. Or it can cause issues between dog and owner once the dog starts to notice the correlation between you and the pain.

I hope other people will come on with their views as hopefully they may be able to explain it better. All I can say is from my personal point of view, I would much rather keep my dog on a long line and let it off at certain times on walks, where it can still run on a long line, than use one of these. In fact I am kind of in this situation.....Dylan goes to a dog walker friend of mine 3 or 4 times a week while I am at work. He has fear issues with strangers (he is a rescue) and we are working on his behaviour modification at the moment....but my friend keeps him on his long lead most of the time, and lets him off in open areas and for swims and stuff, where she knows people wont appear round the corner. Admittedly I have him mostly off lead as I only have the one dog with me and pay attention to my surroundings, but he does spend have his walks at least on leash....just in case a stranger pops out of nowhere and my friend then doesnt have toi worry in case he snaps at him! |so for my dog;s safety and other people's safety I guess. So thats a very long roundabout way of me saying I would always take a long lead over a shock collar.

Jo_Smith
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Jo_Smith » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:18 pm

Believe me, this is not a decison I am taking lightly or have even decided, it is merely an option that has been suggested to me & I have to consider this rather than make a knee-jerk reaction & decide it's unacceptable instantly.

I hate long lines, I know they are recommended & I have consistnelty used one as recommended by behaviourists. With my dog, he knows when he is on a longline so although will try & chase knows he will not get far. Once off he's smart enough to realise that he is no longer attached to me so can have some fun chasing rabbits or whatever.

My dog is also from a rescue centre & has been the best thing in my life, we spend all day, every day together, I walk him miles, we have training sessions, we go to classes - he has just passed his gold Good Citizen Award, his obedicence overall is fantastic. I just wish I could sort this out without considering aversives - I honestly didn't think I would reach this point but here I am.

sorry, have edited to say that I am not a lazy owner looking for a quick fix - I am actually worrying so much about this. I didn't realise until I started thinking about this just how much my thoughts are consumed with worry about my dog disappearing or being injured because I cannot stop him chasing

JudyN
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by JudyN » Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:30 pm

As a lurcher owner, I know quite a few people with dogs (often greyhounds) who can't ever be let off lead, as they would chase, and possibly kill, any small furries. Yes, it's not ideal, but most of these dogs are perfectly content and well balanced. Yes, dogs love to run off lead, but they also love sniffing in the verges, curling up on squishy beds and sleeping, retrieving balls when they're on a long lead, having plenty of play and training sessions... On the other hand, when I had to keep my dog on lead after a leg injury, his behaviour deteriorated and he was bouncing off the walls. They're all different, but please base your decision about his quality of life in how he seems in himself, and not what you feel a dog should be able to do. If he seems generally happy and well balanced, then in his mind, he's not missing out.

If a dog has a strong prey drive he will run through barbed wire fences, tearing strips of skin off, and not notice in the thrill of the chase. In fact someone told me the other day that their lurcher came back from a chase with bits of skin hanging off, and then saw another rabbit, and was off again - this in a type of dog who will cry like a baby if he stubs his toe :roll: How strong a shock from an e-collar would break him out of this? Some dogs can be very stoic, so just because the dog doesn't react doesn't mean he's not being hurt quite badly by the electric shock.

If you look at enough doggy forums, you'll probably find more opinions than there are forums! With my dog, I've been told to alpha roll him, shout at him, never alpha roll him, never raise my voice, that his problems are because I once shouted at him, give him more bones, never give him bones... In the end one has to go with what feels right. I would try negative training methods if the dog wasn't happy with his life and I really felt I had run out of other options. However, I have tried strong verbal reprimands and even a pet corrector spray in the past, and they haven't helped in the slightest, so I'm committed to positive methods and would be extremely concerned about the effect of an e-collar on my, admittedly sensitive, dog.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Jo_Smith
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Jo_Smith » Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:09 pm

I think you have hit the nail on the head - it is about expectation; mine & my dogs. As I said I have tried working with along line which my dog seems to dislike. His basic obedience recall & focus appears to deteriorate when on a long line. He doesn't enjoy his walks as much, does not rush to the gate when he sees I have the long line with me (I have tested his response to with or without this).

I have never used avercives previously, I never shout at my dog, I do not belive in dominance theories, I have read alot regarding dog behaviour by well respected people ( Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Patricia MCConnell) - I am not happy about my recent deliberations, & to some degree, ashamed of myself but this is me, I need to keep my dog safe & I do not believe that I am doing this at the current time

emmabeth
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by emmabeth » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:57 pm

Why is he so unhappy about being on the long line - because he knows he can't chase things he wants to.

SO, supposing an e-collar DID work.. he wouldn't be able to chase things... so would he be any happier?

You should be able to get far enough iwth the long line that he can trail it on the ground, so I can't see how an e-collar would give him that much more freedom or enjoyment, than the long line, and again thats IF it works.

The major difference between trying an e-collar on your neck or wrist, and using it on a dog is this. YOu KNOW when its going to happen, the dog doesnt.

Try a collar and give someone ELSE the remote, heck, try having someone attempt to teach you that they do not like a certain behaviour of yours, by using the remote, without speaking to you or making eye contact and without you looking at them (have them hide their hand with the remote in it, in a pocket or behind something so you have NO idea when the shock will come).

What you will find is that it is very difficult to concentrate, to try out new behaviours etc and it is very very unnerving too, to be getting pain seemingly at random and trying to work out why. Likely you will end up stood in the middle of the room not daring to do ANYTHING, or at the very least quite anxious and anticipating the pain (which can be worse than the pain itself!)

That of course is a very simplified experiment. In the real world there are many things you won't want your dog to do and even if it is 'just' chasing wildlife this isnt 'one' lesson because the context is important and different each time. So 'do not chase the bunny by the hedge' is not the same lesson as 'do not chase the squirrel over there' or 'do not chase the two rabbits boxing in the middle of the field'. In addition to that, as well as teaching him what you do not want, you will naturally be teaching him what you DO want and you will get a better result if he is actively seeking to please you and figure out what you want. But he CANT seek to earn reward if he is at the same time, seeking to avoid punishment - mutually exclusive behaviours!

Sooo.. long line. Revise your expectations and ideals - find places you CAN let him off lead that are secure, find activities to do on walks that are do-able on the long lead. Get a copy (book and dvd) of Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt as this will help enormously both with things to do, and impulse control.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

Jo_Smith
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Jo_Smith » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:43 am

I think his response to the longline is not that he is unable to chase but more that he will be restricted in his walk. It doesn't matter how long the line is he will be restricted. Obviously going in to a small copse is a no-no simply because he will get tied up round a tree, same as darting in to a hedgerow, I constantly have to recall him from the end of the line to be next to me. Off the long line he is happy to run about then retun to my side when called , that is unless he has spotted something to chase!

I know some people have left the longline to trail along but this is not something I am comfortable doing. If my dog were to elude me & I was not quick enough to pick up the trailing line then this could be a danger to him if running around. He could quite easily get caught up in it, unable to escape, if he managed to get to the nearby lake maybe even drown if the line got caught.

I agree with you in that the expectaion of a shock may take the edge off & render it less of a 'shock' (I still wouild not say painful),this is why I am reluctant to use this. As I said I am only considering this as a last resort & having seen the change in my friends dog this is something I wish to investigate fiurther.

I have read Control Unleashed, excellent book, I have read many regarding chasing & techniques regarding redirecting chases so maybe if anyone has any further suggestion I would still be willing to try them out - although I have tried alot so far.

Unfortunately there are no secure areas where I live, I do not even live in a village so there is no park or enclosed space. It is heaven in some ways in that I have open countryside on my doorstep so walking takes up most of my day, along with worrying about my dog.

Sarah83
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Sarah83 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:53 am

If the shock doesn't hurt then why would it work when actual training hasn't? It HAS to hurt to get through to them when they're so intent on chasing something that they don't even hear you call. Your dog sounds exactly like my Rupert. His recall is excellent the vast majority of the time but if he spots something to chase that's it, he's gone. If he'll tear through brambles, barbed wire fencing etc the way Rupert has without batting an eyelid then how high a shock would be needed to actually stop them? What happens if you use it, your dog responds but is then fearful of going to that area again because it hurt him for seemingly no reason? What if he associates it with something that happens to be near him at the time rather than his behaviour? What if instead of coming to you he just keeps on running in an attempt to get away from the pain and fear?

Believe me, I've given serious thought to an ecollar myself. Rupert is a known killer and one neighbour had chickens, another rabbits. There were sheep, horses and cattle in fields that were just metres from the house. I had a hell of a time stopping him getting at something for the first few months we lived there. I've dug deep into the pros and cons of it and imo the potential down falls are too great. But of course most ecollar trainers won't tell you the down sides, according to most of them there are none :roll:

ladybug1802
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by ladybug1802 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:42 am

When you use a long line, why do you feel you need to keep recalling him to be next to you? When Dylan is on his long line, it is attached to a harness with his Wacky Walk'r XTension to shock absorb, and he just toddles along where he wants, usually towards the end of the lead. I only call him back when doing recall training or when I need to take up the line. It really makes no difference to him....sure, he cant run off into the woods, but it doesnty affect him. He still has a really fun walk and enjoys himself!

I'm sorry but the shock collar is painful.....electric shocks ARE painful. Just think of when they used to use electric shocks as a form of torture.....I think that says it all.

And as usual Emmabeth has explained things really well...imagine not having a clue when the shock would happen or why. That would make me a nervous wreck for sure.

Sarah83
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Re: E Collars - Work of the devil or useful training tool?

Post by Sarah83 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:45 am

ladybug1802 wrote:When you use a long line, why do you feel you need to keep recalling him to be next to you? When Dylan is on his long line, it is attached to a harness with his Wacky Walk'r XTension to shock absorb, and he just toddles along where he wants, usually towards the end of the lead. I only call him back when doing recall training or when I need to take up the line. It really makes no difference to him....sure, he cant run off into the woods, but it doesnty affect him. He still has a really fun walk and enjoys himself!
This is Rupert. He runs, rolls, sniffs, plays fetch, plays chase, stalks squirrels, birds etc and does all the things he'd do off leash while he's on a long line. He would prefer to be off leash I'm sure and I'd certainly prefer to be able to let him off but it's tough luck. He still really enjoys his walks and has got used to being on a line again now that we have nowhere we can let him off. I keep hold of the long line because if he saw anything there is no way on earth I'd be able to grab it and stop him, I'm not quick enough.

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